We are honoured to have been invited once again to write a guest post for Retirement and Good Living. This time we chose the subject of health, and health insurance, for travellers.

Health and Medical Care While Travelling the World. Seventy is the new fifty – except for the cost of health insurance! I hope some of you find some useful tips in this article.

Just a short time before we were contacted by the people at Retirement and Good Living, we were thrilled, and completely surprised, to be approached for an interview by a Brazilian Magazine. The magazine is ViraVolta for those of you who read Portuguese.

This is the direct link to our interview.

If you’re Portuguese-challenged (as we are) here is a google translation that I edited as best I could:

What this couple learned after selling their home at age 70 to travel the world?
April 30 Carol Fernandes

The story of this couple who decided to sell their home at age 70 to travel the world is inspiring. Here is the experience from their perspective.

THAT’S RIGHT! They sold their house to fund a long journey travelling the world AND SAY THAT WAS THE BEST THING THAT THEY DID IN THEIR LIVES. The couple, Don 72 years and Alison 64, who blog at Adventures in Wonderland, are definitely an inspiration for anyone who would like to travel the world, especially for those who fail to live this experience because of fears.

After all, should people over 70 years be afraid to travel the world? I did an interview with them and it was a pleasure to get to know more about their history. Be sure to read and you will be enchanted by the sight of life of this couple.

The decision of the journey

Don decided to retire at age 68 because he was developing a series of medical problems due to stress at work. They had the dream to travel the world but had not enough money to maintain a home and travel as they wanted. Until one day they asked, “Do we want to have a house or do we want to have a life?” And so they decided to sell their house and use this investment to fund living a life travelling the world.

They started this journey around the world 3 1/2 years ago and since then have visited 24 countries: Italy, Spain, France, India (x2), Indonesia, Australia (x3), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam (x2), Myanmar (Burma), USA, Mexico, Sweden (x2), Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Cyprus, Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand.

Age is not a limit to travel the world

For them there is a big myth with regard to age. The concepts of “adventure” and “love of life” are not just for the young, they are for everyone. “Life is what you make of it and we only have one chance to live it well,” says Alison.

They never faced age as limiting and it never influenced their decision. They still feel young and full of energy. They understand that at this age some things take longer to heal, so they are aware in deciding what activities they want to do. But even so they can enjoy it too, such as: trekking, swimming with elephants, camel rides in the desert, climbing volcanoes and more.

They do not have a date to stop. Everything will depend on their enthusiasm for traveling and their physical condition. The only certainty is that this moment has not yet arrived. For them, the opportunity to travel and see the world with new and wiser eyes is a huge gift of life. Much of this comes from their spiritual beliefs. They live in the present, in a state of confidence and trust. Worrying about the future is not productive. “We know that one day we will die, and prefer to live the most of this life. We do not want to have remorse because we wasted the opportunities that were given us” says Alison.

Medical issues

Don’s medical situation, he has a heart condition, requires some care. At first they were afraid of getting sick in developing countries, but after 3½ years they have experienced that it is never an issue when it is most needed, including in developing countries. Alison needed medical treatment for mild liver disease in India, for a head injury in Mexico, and for an allergic reaction to a wasp sting in Laos, and the treatments have always been professional, on time and at a very reasonable cost.

Usually they carry the supply of prescription drugs needed and never had any problems crossing the border with them. But argue that in many developing countries (eg, Mexico and India) most common medications are easily available even without a prescription. Anyway, they return each year to Canada and there review all health issues.

For them the most amazing thing was to discover that Don, despite his health problems, feels much more happy and healthy travelling than when he was at home and working every day.

The biggest lessons from travelling the world

“The more we travel we take more pleasure in life. There is always more to learn. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and about the people of the world, through our travels.” For them traveling the world requires a very open mind, and even at this stage of life most are internal learnings.

“We learned …

* More trust: we trust that we are being well looked after by a greater mystery and this leaves us free to explore more fully.
* We worry much less about the future: experience contributes to having confidence in this.
* A lot less worry about the money: a lot less than we used to.
* Greater connection and caring for people: the vast majority of people we’ve met in our travels have been kind, generous and open-hearted.
* Saying yes to opportunities that come our way: they probably will never go back from this new direction.
* Living with a conscious gratitude for life: valuing what is given to us much more than we used to.
* They complain less, when a complaint comes they quickly make the choice to see things from a different perspective.
* Living with less: we do not need a lot, especially when we travel through the tropical regions.
* We can live together 24/7 and still enjoy each other’s company: honest and open communication has been key.

“You can always teach old dogs new tricks!
After three and a half years on the road, after experiencing so much that was unforeseen, we see life as a series of miracles that unfold.”

One advice for those who want to travel the world at that age

“To feel safer to travel at this age it is best to plan. Do research and seek as much information as possible. Get ready before leaving and so you will feel less vulnerable. Plan and at the same time leave time to have flexibility as you travel. Believe in yourself and do it. You will never be able to imagine the rewards of living this experience. An important tip: stop looking at the news in the newspaper, they were made to terrorize people.”

Stories like that of Don and Alison fill me with joy. Show that we will always have the chance to learn more and build our self-knowledge, no matter what time of life. I always say that there is no right time to travel the world. No matter how you will live this experience, it will always be beautiful!

Will you do this? Even at 50, 60, 70 …! Have confidence.

When I grow up I want to be like them! Living in the moment and believing in the good that crosses my path.

Thank you so much Carol, at ViraVolta, for your interest in our story and for interviewing us. It was a great pleasure to connect with you and your magazine.

Photos of the day: More beautiful New Zealand scenery. The one above is overlooking Lake Wanaka from Mt Aspiring National Park, and the one below is in Abel Tasman National Park.


All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.